Normal heard a long, low whistle and glanced over to see Wagget raising his eyebrows and Podium giving the whistle.
‘You’re in there,’ said Podium. ‘Old Rafe’ll be prophesying you for president before long.’
‘We don’t have a president,’ said Normal.
Podium laughed. Wagget nodded.
‘No. But Russia does.’
‘You’ll find out,’ said Podium and he and Wagget sauntered off, leaving Normal to explore on his own.
Zanufius and Zenobius glanced across at each other. It was a thankless task, guarding the gates. You needed patience and stamina. And lots of sleep. So you could stay awake for hours on end, standing to attention with your eyes peeled and brain alert.
The grounds at Guardian Grange seemed to go on forever, especially to a youngster like Normal. His family had a house with a three rooms upstairs, three downstairs and a square bit of grass at the front and the back of the house. And that was it. Here there were all kinds of buildings dotted around the place. There seemed to be miles of carefully cut grass in between and a maze of grey tarmac pathways linking everything. Not to mention the huge oak trees that towered above like giant’s umbrellas. Normal needed lots of space right now so it suited him. He felt a little lost, smaller than usual. Nothing was the same anymore and he needed to think it through. He felt a strange feeling in his chest too. Like he was sad and in pain and not sure which way to look. Not even Tiberius could make him feel better.
It was odd because he’d waited all summer to finally come to Guardian Grange. His dad had been to school there and told him of the amazing adventures he had had and so Normal had been desperate to come too. But now he was actually here nothing seemed right. All the other pupils seemed happy and at home, well Waggot and Podium did, and those two girls who had come laughing down the corridor. He wished he could feel the same as them. But he just felt lost. He walked around the trees, across the grass and over the pathways. And then suddenly he came upon Zanufius and Zenobius. They were big. Not pupils, but they didn’t look like teachers either. They had faces like stone statues and they were tall and wore bright silver armour. They towered over Normal and they didn’t look happy to see him.
‘You’re a long way off the beaten track,’ said Zanufius, his voice thundering like the sound of a huge boulder rolling down an alley towards Normal. about to crush him.
‘I… I went for a walk.’
‘Does anyone know?’ asked Zenobius, and his voice thundered in the same way.
Normal shook his head. ‘I… I just wanted to think.’
‘You’re new aren’t you?’ said Zanufius.
Normal flicked his head from one giant to the other as each spoke, it was like watching a tennis match.
‘Yes,’ said Zenobius. ‘A new intake.’
Normal nodded frantically.
‘Do you know who we are?’ Zanufius asked.
Zenobius laughed, and the sound was like a dozen boulders rolling down towards Normal. He stepped back in shock.
‘You don’t know much about the Grange yet do you?’ asked Zanufius.
Normal shook his head frantically.